It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything to do with running. I’ve not really been racing this year. I want to say a huge thank you as the blog has still been getting active followers based on the older posts and that feels great. I have been finding it hard to deal with the cause of the intervals – Anyklosing Spondylitis.
No one really knows what it is, people can hardly pronounce it most of the time and I’m clearly too young to have arthritis in most people’s high opinion. BUT despite GP’s excellent advise of, ‘do nowt’ I did not let it take my life. I worry about things, sure, but I keep doing them. I keep loving, dancing, writing and being creative. I’ll build back up again. I’ve got a wonderful foundation of old true friends who’ve really shown me their light combined with fantastic new ones I’ve met this year who seem determined not to let me wallow and get me out to things and I’m so grateful for all of them. My story wouldn’t be so positive without them – and it does get there.
Pain is temporary, pride is forever.
An old running mantra that got me through eight marathons to date. It had positivity worked up until February 28th 2016. In my memory the last day that pain wasn’t normal – you don’t forget a date like that.
I used to be the type that couldn’t even bare to take paracetamol. I’d wait it out a few days and reassess. Then the downhill started at the top of a kidney infection during which it swelled to an egg sized bruise in my left side. It took five different types of antibiotics and two months signed off sick to clear the infection. Mysteriously the pain remained. Doctor Whally would say, ‘no matter how much investigation we do it might remain forever with no answer.’ She was convinced the pain was Chronic Fatigue related combined with anxiety. I pleaded it had nothing to do with my stress and that the fatigue was caused by the pain. During delays for a scan and Chronic Fatigue specialists my leg collapsed sending me to A and E twice. I required crutches.
Marathon girl … crutches! I was shocked it could go so terribly bad so quickly without warning. Made miserable by not being able to run, of being told the scan of my tummy came back with perfect biology, they could see no cause. X-ray scans of A and E showed no results after checking for Sciatica.
Still I tried to juggle work and my nine year old daughter Holly. Worrying for our future if I can’t work. The Chronic Fatigue specialist advised going part time to rest mid-week and spreading running out daily. After two sessions she thankfully understood that the leg pain was not connected to fatigue and referred me back to Doctor Wordsworth who then referred me onto pain specialists and a somewhat terrifying MRI scan. Cue thinking of all the worst diagnosis you can bring up on Google. After weeks of my hypochondria driving my anxiety up the wall the MRI proved what I’d been trying to tell them all along – that I had an illness.
‘Anyklosing Spondylitis,’ said Doctor, ‘You’ve been referred urgently to Rheumatology.’
I was finally validated that it wasn’t all in my head thank you very much. That Anyklosing causes depression and fatigue by nature. That I had in my left hip and spine additional bone growth that signified the arthritis. After six months of nerve pain medication that didn’t work because there was no evidence of nerve pain I could go on to anti-inflammatory tablets called Naproxyn whilst awaiting Rheumatology.
‘A CT scan in early 2015 showed signs of it,’ said the MRI report. But they weren’t looked for it then so they didn’t tell me. I could have known for a whole extra year. I could have been managing my life differently to ensure it didn’t get as bad as it is now. The pain hit just as I was starting to feel secure and happy in my job and finances. Now thanks to the NHS’ negligence I face uncertain future not knowing whether this will get worse and what I can do to make life manageable now?
Every time my legs stop working I have to build my life and fitness back to run again. Or at least just to being able to walk. So now pain isn’t temporary. But pride is still forever, so long as I can still walk, I can dance, I can swim and I can stretch. Life is a marathon and I might not be able to run a fast one in the future but so long as I can still join the crowd and do the best each day I still have my pride.
Thankfully, after writing the most of this post in October, I went onto run the Florence Marathon on November 28th with no negative health outcome finishing in 6 hours 15 minutes. This makes marathon number nine. So, my lesson from this is that whilst things can be painful it’s important never to give up on the things that give you joy. I thought I could never run a marathon again but this proved otherwise with an OK time considering my average.
I am hugely grateful that despite being unable to walk twice this year I somehow finished the year running a marathon. Met a fellow Southville Club Runner and a lovely lady called Karen who interval sprinted with me at the end. Come back race of all come back races. A big “F**K YOU” to my self doubt!
Again, thank you to all my friends and family, and a thank you to those who kept reading.